Beginning the summer before their sixth grade year, our students attend Middle School Summer Academy, where they receive instruction in the four core subject areas: English, math, science, and Global Connect (similar to Social Studies). Students also choose elective classes crafted off of their teachers’ passions, talents, and skills. These classes can range from dance to theater to poetry to yoga to astronomy. All classes at our Summer Academy are small – approximately 8-12 students – so that each student receives individualized academic attention and support. Low-income students lose up to 25% of the information gained the previous school year during the summer months (The Case Against Summer Vacation). Not only does this programming combat the summer learning loss that many students who do not receive summer enrichment experience, but students also enter the next school year feeling more prepared and confident because they have already been exposed to the grade’s content. Students also attend weekly field trips, during which they learn about their local communities, explore different career opportunities, tour local colleges, and engage in community service.
Summer student enrichment includes:
During the summer, we are proud to partner with the NCDPI through the USDA Summer Food Services Program to provide healthy meals at no cost to our students.
During the school year, middle school students board Durham Public School buses Monday through Thursday after-school and come to the W.G. Pearson Center for three hours of after-school programming and enrichment. The after-school program mirrors the structures, values, and culture already well-established in Student U’s Summer Academy. Programming includes study sessions, academic goal setting, intense academic remediation, academic and arts clubs, and community building. Perhaps just as beneficial as the academic support are the close and supportive relationships they are able to continue building with their Student U peers and teachers throughout the school year.
Year-round student enrichment includes:
21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant provides significant funding for Student U's Middle School Year Round Program.
“After a decade of being a Student U student, I came back to teach sixth grade English. Each sixth grader had a gleam of uncertainty in their eyes and a quiet excitement in their souls. I could feel them, their presence, and their persona. Each and every one of my kids is unique and bright. I saw myself in them. I saw my friends in them. I saw who they were and who they would become and for the first time ever, I felt something inside of me: passion. A will and an excitement like none other, something that can’t be reproduced or replicated.”
– Nelson Jared Lopez, UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate